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“My life is my message.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was known as daily experimenter. Deeply curious about how simple daily choices and practices could impact his well-being, Gandhi implemented a series of lifestyle experiments. He tested out different levels of movement, played around with his diet, and explored various schedule routines. He also paid close attention to the relationship between these actions and his capacity to show up in other facets of life. Based on what he noticed, he made adjustments. These experiments were a way for him to actively align his lifestyle with the health of his mind and body.
In our ambitious culture it can be easy to get caught up in in the bigness of aspirations, forgetting how effective small steps can be. This is what I love about Gandhi’s experimental lifestyle. Gandhi aspired big and demonstrated the capacity to manifest his aspirations. He brought life to his aspirations in part though, by enlivening simple daily choices.
This is also one of the ways I’ve come to understand what it means to live and work mindfully. It isn’t about always knowing the answers or doing things on a grand scale. Mindful living is remaining curious in the moment. It involves paying attention to the impact actions have on our inner and outer experiences, then responding with care and wisdom.
Below are three steps for designing your own mindful living experiments.
What’s a routine or practice that could support you to be more grounded throughout the day? Sleep more restfully? Be more present for what matters most in your life? Once you’ve chosen your ritual, decide when you will do it each day. For some first thing in the morning helps them be more present throughout the day. For others a mindful midday break or evening routine feels most beneficial. Finally, determine how long to conduct your experiment. The idea is to commit to a time period long enough to realistically experience a difference, but not so long as to forget about it.
During your experiment pay attention to how you feel. If something is unpleasant, would it be okay to simply notice rather than deem as a mistake or failure? If something feels great, might you be willing nevertheless not add more, yet. Take some time at the end of your experiment to gather your reflections. In general, do you feel more grounded? How is your sleep? Quality of presence? Connections with others? In what ways has the practice been helpful? Was there anything about it that felt relatively easy or difficult? Would you be better off continuing with this practice, or a modified version of this practice?
Modify your practice based on your reflections. Maybe this means you’re doing more, maybe less. The idea is to be responsive to what will most benefit your mind and body so you can show up for the people and things you care about. Once you’ve arrived at what feels good, choose a new time period in which you will commit to this new iteration of your experiment.
Interested in meeting life and work with more mindfulness? My Fall Mindful Living course begins Oct. 22. If you are an individual or small business interested in mindfulness-based coaching and mentoring learn more here.